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  • I hated the high school dances, especially in my freshman year. The cool kids were all in the middle of the floor, having a good time with their crews and their popularity and school spirits, while us loners and losers and nerds lined the walls, waiting for life, or something resembling it, to happen. This is it? This is the high school world I was looking forward to? It was the only chance you really got to see girls, as during the day, in the all boys catholic school, all you saw were other guys. But when nothing happened, it made things even worse. You left feeling even more alone than when you went – disappointed, certain that nothing was ever going to happen, and you were going to be alone forever. I really hated those dances.

    After I started working in the restaurants, I finally began to develop a social life, and friends who treated me like an equal and not their favorite scapegoat. I got to be friends with Darrel and Cy at my second restaurant job, the Big Boy Eat’N’Park in Dormont. We were cooks together there. We’d go out drinking and looking for fun, and girls, after work. On Saturday nights, there was a dance joint out by South Hills Village, a little roadhouse just off of Route 19, that we went to a few times.

    That joint was jumpin’! It was so much better than those awful high school dances. Just the fact that you went and left with some real friends made it a lot better, but also the real possibility that you might meet a girl and hit it off made it exciting and hopeful.

    Darrel, Cy, our friend Scotty and I went out there one Saturday night, just looking for fun and girls. Of course, we’d scored some Boone’s Farm Apple wine, and chugged it down across the road from the dance joint – there was no drinking allowed on the premises, but most of the people there were feeling pretty good by the time they got there. It was hit or miss with asking the girls to dance, but at least you were asking, even if it had taken a little bit of liquid courage to do so.

    I had asked this one nice, pretty looking girl to dance, and she said yes, and seemed to be enjoying it as much as I was – she also seemed to be “feeling good” like I was - so she danced with me a few more times, then said she needed to go outside to get some air. We went outside into the parking lot, and she looked up at me with a look that I thought, “Oh, wow – I think she wants me to kiss her! Cool!” So, I did.

    It had been dark in the dance hall, and I hadn’t noticed her braces. Ouch! I immediately got my tongue tied up on them, but tried to be cool about it. When I realized I had cut my tongue on them, it got too hard to ignore. She was apologizing, I was trying to downplay it, but the taste of blood in the kiss kind of dampened the romance of the moment. We stumbled back into the dance, and that was it.

    My friends needed to know all about it. I was a little reluctant to cough up the details at first, but when I finally told them about the braces, and cutting my tongue, and the “bloody kiss”, they just fell out. “You have the worst luck with girls, Pete!” I did – but the way I saw it, I’d gotten over one hump – kissing a girl – and now, I was ready for more. I had a feeling my luck was going to improve.

    I was right. That was a few months before I danced with Tina Turner, and then wound up dating one of the prettiest and most popular girls in the public high school. The date was a total bust, but our first meeting was heaven, as we kissed for a good half an hour, both feeling good after the restaurant’s Christmas party. The best part of that kissing session, though? No blood!
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